The shambolic postcode lottery which has emerged after reforms to Council Tax Benefit is creating chaos for Local Authorities and driving some people into desperate poverty.
Welfare Reforms, Council Tax set Precedent for More Postcode Lottery Benefits to come.
I have just paid the last installment of my year’s Council Tax.
Now in Ipswich this is relatively low – though an unwelcome extra deduction from our JSA.
When they introduced this new system, which means even the poorest in the land have to pay Council Tax, the ‘benefit’ reduction was ‘localised’ so it depends on where you live as to how much you pay.
So somebody with the same amount of JSA in say, Tendering Essex, will pay about double, if not more than somebody in Ipswich.
The Void reported the results back in 2014.
In August last year we saw this (Guardian),
The most common reason to use bailiffs was council tax arrears, followed by parking fines. They were also used to get benefit overpayments reimbursed and to collect business rates and commercial rates.
And this (Independent, also August 2015)
Over 122,000 people in the city have fallen into arrears on their council tax
Now we face the propsect of this kind of break up of help being extended a lot more.
Handing responsibility for emergency welfare support to local authorities risks turning the welfare system into a “postcode lottery”, an influential group of MPs have warned.
Reports the ever excellent Welfare News: full story here.
A new report published by the Commons Work and Pensions Committee raises concerns about the pressures on families caused by welfare reforms, and the “coverage and adequacy” of localised welfare safety nets to fill the gaps – particularly in England.
The Committee examined three locally-run discretionary schemes: Council Tax support, Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) and local welfare assistance schemes.
The cross-party group of MPs say the Government “must act” to protect vulnerable groups from national welfare reforms such as the Benefit Cap and Bedroom Tax, otherwise known as ‘removal of the spare room subsidy’.
The Committee has also urged central Government and local councils to do more to prevent vulnerable people from being plunged into severe hardship and destitution.
Key findings from the report include:
– Localisation risks blurring the lines of national and local responsibility, leading to confusion among vulnerable people about where to turn in a financial crisis: closer joint-working and sharing of national and local data must be prioritised.
– Time-limited Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) are clearly inadequate protection for some groups of people the Government did not intend its welfare reforms to affect, but who cannot reasonably be expected to take steps to mitigate the effects. Such groups should be exempted.
– The DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) should strengthen and put onto a statutory footing its guidance in relation to Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) for disabled people.
– Central and local government should agree and implement an effective local government funding system which can cope with future economic downturns and protect services, including crisis welfare, in more deprived areas.
– The recently announced DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government) review of local Council Tax support schemes should investigate, and if necessary recommend eradicating local authorities issuing court summonses, and instructing bailiffs, as a method of raising revenue.
Rest of story continues here.